‘Break’-ing Up is Hard to Do: My Year of Pop Culture (2012)

I don’t’ want to get all sentimental on y’all, but 2012 has been a year of ups and downs and I can’t help but feel like this was ‘The Year of the Break-Up.’ Not only was there a real break-up involved, but I also had to say goodbye to living in London and the friends I made there, I wrote a dissertation, and now am settling into the Angelino lifestyle and getting used to the fact that grad school ends in six months. I won’t go into more detail (that’s what a Live Journal was for), but I can say that a lot of the pop culture I got into, and consumed myself in, sometimes made it easier, sometimes made it harder. However, I survived the year and am feeling pumped and ready to go for 2013. So here we go, let’s revisit the Year that Was!

Television

The Year of Mad Men and Breaking Bad

There’s nothing quite as sobering as watching an AMC series to make you realize that a break-up ranks pretty low on the scale of possible horrible things that can happen to you in your lifetime. My dissertation revolved around Mad Men, so I spent A LOT of time rewatching the entire series and transcribing episodes.

And then, over the summer, during my waves of melodramatic despair and the struggle to make myself write a dissertation, I decided to finally delve into the world of Breaking Bad. Wow, what a ride. Everything from the writing, directing, and acting is done so superbly on that show. I’m so anxious to see how it all ends.

Continuing on the dark themes, I also got obsessed with Homeland. I know the first season aired in the fall of 2011, but it aired this last spring in England. I patiently waited every week for the new episode. It was absolutely riveting. Season 2 didn’t pack quite as much punch, at least in the second half of the season, but it sure makes for a great hour of television. Not only am I obsessed with Damian Lewis and Rupert Friend, but Mandy Patikin too – Holla!

On a lighter note, my favorite comedies this year all, refreshingly, have strong, original female leads. I love me some funny ladies on the telly!  Girls was a honest and relatable series that I could get behind, with some truly great lines that, if I do say so myself, ‘speak of a generation.’

New Girl provides a great ensemble of people that I wish I were actually friends with and I would definitely call Jake Johnson’s Nick Miller my fantasy rebound man. Highlights this season were Jess’ costume as Zombie Woody Allen and Nick’s Bea Arthur (literally wore a shirt that said Arthur and Bumble Bee antennae – brills!), Nick’s zombie novel, and overall the ‘Menzies’ episode was just a masterpiece of real laugh-out-loud moments.

Parks & Recreation continues to give me hope. I love that this show involves a lot of heart. Ultimately, it’s a very positive and optimistic show, which is something that I think our media could use a lot more of. And I genuinely feel so happy for Leslie – I think Amy Poehler has been unfairly overlooked all these years.

Louis CK’s comedy special Chewed Up from 2008 is on Netflix. I watched it this summer and nearly died. The funniest hour of comedy I’ve seen in a long time.

Movies       

I’ve written quite a bit about the movies I’ve seen this past year, but a few really hit me in different ways, and it’s too soon to pick my top movies of the year without having seen all the Oscar contenders. Although The Descendents was on last year’s awards circuit, I find myself thinking about that movie a lot – and it kicked off a wave of listening to Hawaiian music. I lived in Hawaii when I was younger for a short period of time, so the movie and the music helped me get in touch with some of the things that happened during that period.

I also didn’t see The Muppets until this year when it came out in London, and I got to go to a sneak peak at the London Comedy Festival with a Q&A with director James Bobin. That movie put a wide smile on my face all the way through. It was nostalgic to the max.

I loved the indie charmer Safety Not Guaranteed. It was a great little gem with my man Jake Johnson, Aubrey Plaza, and Mark Duplass. A very unique and sweet semi-science fiction film.

I also finally saw Drive this summer. What a fantastic mix of artistry, music, and performance. The soundtrack is great, and Ryan Gosling is as enigmatic as ever.

Music

“Don’t Move” – Phantogram

My most played song this year. Such a great jam.

 

“Hold On”  – Alabama Shakes

Perfect song for the summer. And all other seasons. And great for a post-break-up confidence boost.

Anything by The Cars

Was trying to not listen to another great new wave band because it reminded me too much of a certain someone, so I became obsessed with The Cars instead. I think it was a good decision.

“Take Me Home Tonight” – Eddie Money

I became reacquainted with this song and realized how amazing it is. And so is this video. You’re welcome.

“Faith” – George Michael

Man, I love me some George Michael. These music videos are spectacular. Clearly I had a thing for the 80s this year. But I don’t expect that to change.

“Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” – The Shirelles

This simple oldie says it all. And gets me every time. Love it.

“Cry to Me” – Soloman Burke

Maybe one of the sexiest songs. I can’t stop listening.

“If You Wanna” – The Vaccines

Breakup pitfall. “If you wanna come back, it’s all right, it’s all right.” Fun tune though!

“Genesis” – Grimes

This girl’s got swag. Such a cool and weird sound. The vid takes about a minute to get into it.

“Only Love” – Ben Howard

Gotta have some love for the Brits. Saw him live this year. This is also a very sexy song.

“Countdown” – Beyonce

You can always count on Beyonce to make a girl feel better. And to make you want to just dance!

On that note, I hope the countdown to your New Year is full of fun and in good company!

Cheers XX

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